Tuesday, January 31, 2012
203. CAT's CRADLE
The Book Blurb:
Cat's Cradle is Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a Calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.
What Hooked Me:
Any book that portrays some of humankind's absurdity is a must-read for me. And any book that shows what stupidity men do (or say) in the name of religion makes it even more compelling for me. This brilliant satire was written fifty years ago, and yet I feel as though the ideas were taken from today's headlines. Another timeless classic!
'Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John.
Jonah -- John -- if I had been a Sam, I would have been a Jonah still -- not because I have been unlucky for others, but because somebody or something has compelled me to be certain places at certain times, without fail. Conveyances and motives, both conventional and bizarre, have been provided. And, according to plan, at each appointed second, at each appointed place this Jonah was there.'(1)
'We Bokonists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon, and the instrument, the kan-kan, that brought me into my own particular karass was the book I never finished, the books to be called The Day the World Ended.'(2)
'New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.'(41)
'Pure research men work on what fascinates them, not on what fascinates other people.'(49)
'A wrang-wrang, according to Bokonon, is a person who steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity.'(78)
"Americans, ... are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier."(97)
'A pissant is somebody who thinks he's so damn smart, he never can keep his mouth shut. No matter what anybody says, he's got to argue with it. You say you like something, and, by God, he'll tell you why you're wrong to like it. A pissant does his best to make you feel like a boob all the time. No matter what you say, he knows better.'(130)
"I always knew, ... that, if I waited long enough, somebody would come and envy me. I kept telling myself to be patient, that, sooner or later, somebody envious would come along.'(151)
'Newt remained curled in the chair. He held out his painty hands as though a cat's cradle were strung between them. "No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's ..."
"No damn cat, and no damn cradle."(166)
'People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say.'(169)
'... when it became evident that no government or economic reform was going to make the people much less miserable, the religion became the one real instrument of hope. Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so Bokonon made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies.'(172)
'Science is magic that works.'(218)
'I turned to Castle the elder. "Sir, how does a man die when he's deprived of the consolations of literature?"
"In one of two ways," he said, "petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system."(232)
'Think of what a paradise this world would be if men were kind and wise.'(256)
'Someday, someday, this crazy world will have to end,
And our God will take things back that He to us did lend.
And if, on that sad day, you want to scold our God,
Why go right ahead and scold Him. He'll just smile and nod.'(270)
'Each person here has some specialty, something to give the rest.'(278)
'Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. ... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.'(281)
a Delta Book Edition